EMYLIA HALL

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A Heart Bent Out of Shape (2013)

Hadley Dunn leads a normal and not-too-exciting life. One day, she decides it is time for a change, which results in her leaving home to study for a year in the Swiss city of Lausanne. Lausanne is full of promise and Hadley quickly becomes close friends with the Danish girl who lives in the room next to hers, Kristina. Unexpectedly, tragedy strikes, and Hadley's Swiss adventure suddenly turns into a nightmare. The only person she feels she can trust is her American Literature professor, Joel Wilson, whom she forms a close relationship with. Hadley wants to discover what happened that cold November night when everything changed but this turns out to be a more difficult and intriguing task than she initially thought. Emylia Hall provides the reader with magnificent descriptions of the Swiss city. It almost felt like I was walking down the snow-covered streets myself, as if I could feel the cold and see the tops of the mountains in the distance. With her words, she manages to convey a very specific feeling and image, a particular atmosphere, which fits the story perfectly. Next to the scene setting, I was straightaway intrigued by Hadley and I liked her as a character. I also loved her friendship with Kristina and the relationship she builds up with Hugo, a retired crime author who spends his days drinking brandy at a fancy hotel in Lausanne. It took a bit of time before the story really got going but this provides the reader with a couple of chapters to get acquainted with Hadley as the protagonist of the story and the city of Lausanne; chapters that build up to the moment of tragedy which is what the rest of the novel focuses on. After that moment, I simply wanted to read on and on to discover more about the story. A Heart Bent Out of Shape is a poignant and captivating read about hope, first love, and loss, which you will not want to put down. (JoH)


The Book of Summers (2012)

This debut novels tells the story of Beth Lowe who receives a package from her estranged mother in Hungary. Beth's parents separated when she was nine years old so she lived with her father in England and spent the summers with her mother in Hungary . That is, until her summer escapes came to an end when she was 16. Upon opening the parcel she learns that her mother, Marika, has died.The parcel contains a book of those summer visits to Hungary, compiled by her mother and sent to her by her mother's partner. As the story develops, family secrets are revealed which change Beth's life forever. I was somewhat disappointed by this book. The excellent storyline was spoiled by the over-descriptive narrative which made it very difficult to keep track of the story. But if you enjoy evocative prose, you may well love it. (BS)


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